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Welcome to The Lee Family Page, which furnishes historical detail beyond the site index, exploring two generations of Lees in the line of John Washington Lee of Stewart Co. (now Houston Co.), Tennessee.

6. Mary Elizabeth Lee (Boone) --"Betty" Boone, the wife of Richard Byrd Boone, was born May 18, 1823, either in Stewart Co., TN or North Carolina, and died June 18,1909 in Erin, TN. According to family tradition, she was supposed to have been a first or second cousin of Robert E. Lee, but the names of all of of his cousins have been checked in the book "Lees of Virginia" and she is not listed among the grandchildren of Robert E. Lee’s grandfather, Henry Lee II, nor the grandchildren of Henry’s father, Henry Lee Sr. (who, incidentally, was married to Mary Bland (1704-1764), daughter of Col. Richard Bland (1665-1720) of Williamsburg). The historian, Goodspeed, lists the siblings of Mary Elizabeth Lee Boone as: Calvin Summers Lee (b. TN, 1827-1873), James Sanford Lee (b. TN, 1830-1909; first Houston Co. Court Clerk), John Lee (b.1832-died young), and Margaret Lee (Wingo) -b.1833, TN). However, according to the notes of Marcia Sizemore Lee, second wife of Elizabeth’s brother, James Sanford Lee, there were several other older siblings: Sarah Anne Lee (Pegram), William Lee (b.1814), George Washington Lee, a younger sister named Mary Lee (Allsbrooks).

7. John Washington Lee --John W. Lee, the father of Betty Lee Boone, according to the TN census reports and the historian Goodspeed, was born somewhere in North Carolina in 1790, as was his wife, Elizabeth Hawkins (b. ca 1794 and died 1893). According to Marcia Sizemore Lee, John may have been born in Virginia (or N.C.) in 1790, was of English descent, and possibly his father was blind. She attempted to contact Robert E. Lee about their relationship, but never received an answer. She came upon one weak tradition that associated the name "Dark Horse" Harry Lee (Robert E. Lee's "black-sheep" brother-b.1787) with some relation to John’s father. (Gen. R. E. Lee’s father was "Light Horse" Harry). According to her notes, John Washington Lee had a sister named Sarah Anne Lee, who married a Billips in Charlotte, N.C. Sarah’s daughter, Hattie Billips, married a Boone in Charlotte. She adds: "John, as a young man was a sailor and made trips to London, England, on tobacco shipping, with a tobacco merchant. They were shipwrecked, stayed in water, on timbers, two weeks before three of the crewmen were rescued off the coast of North Carolina. This happened in May. Later, J. W. Lee went to the home of Steven Hawkins, a relative of his [who died in Nov. 1794, according to Edgecombe Co., NC. court records]. "He married Hawkin’s daughter in N.C. about I812. His father was blind". She adds that John W. Lee and Elizabeth Hawkins were cousins of some kind. John died in Stewart Co., now Houston Co., (in 1849 and was) buried in Ross Grave Yard, Wells Creek" (as was his wife). She also had heard that John Lee fought in the War of 1812. This is possibly confirmed in Sistler’s Tennesseans in the War of 1812, which lists John W. Lee (Leigh) as a private serving under Major Gen. Wm. Carrol and Capt. Francis Ellis’ infantry division. (However, there are also two more John W. Lees listed in NC in the War of 1812 rosters : Wake Co. NC 2nd Regiment two John W. Lees, one of them an ensign. An 1831 grant of 100 acres to John W. Lee in the Well’s Creek area (next to Betty’s father-in-law Etheldred Boone’s land, acquired in 1827 & 1835) is in all probability our John Washington Lee, as is the 1840 census listing of him as John W. Leigh in Stewart Co. with wife, children and a 60-70 female (probably Elizabeth's mother, Fanny Hawkins). After John’s death in 1849, the 1850 Houston Co. census shows widow Elizabeth (Hawkins) Lee, age 56, living with her children, Calvin, James, Margaret and John (age 16) and other son, William, age 36, who is married to Dollie (Milam) with two children. Marcia S. Lee also mentions another son of John W. Lee named George Washington Lee (Leigh) who married Margaret Billups. Indeed he is listed elsewhere as having married Margaret Billup in 1836 in Dickson TN. LDS shows him as married to M. Billup & as the son of John Bingham Lee of Chapel Hill, Orange Co., NC. (b.1742 or 1773), although an Orange Co. John Bingham Lee is also shown as the father of (another?) George Washington Lee (b.1811) who married Molly Mary Trice). The eldest daughter of John and Elizabeth was Sarah Anne Lee, born in 1812. Around 1835, Sarah married Nathan Petus Pegram (1813-after 1860) of Stewart Co., TN, son of Daniel Pegram who moved from Warren Co. NC. to Stewart Co., where he died. A history book from Erin, TN, alleges that,
 "John is thought to have been the son of John Audry Lee and Sarah Morgan Lee." While this is certainly possible, I have not been able to find any information that would collaborate this. 

Clues to further research: Who was the father of John Washington Lee? At this point we have not narrowed down the county or state in which he was born (whether Virginia or North Carolina), but we do know that his sister Sarah Anne married in Mecklenberg Co., NC (Charlotte) and his wife, Elizabeth Hawkins, who is thought to have been his cousin, was born in Edgecombe Co. NC. If John and Elizabeth were indeed first cousins, then John's unknown mother must have been either a Hawkins or a Bonner (Elizabeth's mother's family) and we might look for potential Lee fathers in Virginia and North Carolina of the right age, who married a Hawkins or a Bonner and had a son named John and a daughter named Sarah. Of course, we realize there are many other possibilities ; however, we have found at least several Lee fathers who come close to fitting this description, but without further records, or help from other researchers who may have further information on these individuals, it is difficult to rule them out or in as candidates. They are: 1) Edward Lee (b. before 1772 in VA), who in February 21, 1788, married his wife Polly Bonner (b. before 1775 in Prince George Co., or Dinwiddle Co., Virginia), who may have been the daughter of Frederick Bonner and Elisabeth Smith. In Dinwiddle Co. tax records, there is mention of an Edward Leigh-1803 “taxed on 220a cover by Fredrick Bonner...”  2) Samuel Lee (1753-before 1798) of Petersburg, Dinwiddie Co., VA, who married Susannah Bonner (b.ca.1770) (Samuel was apparently the son of Samuel Lee Sr., who died in 1760, and his wife, Mary, who remarried a  Temple). Also in Prince George Co. VA: Ann Bonner, wife of Henry Bonner, relinquishes dower right in land sold by her husband to Jesse Lee, Sept.21,1784. (It appears from Land records that Jesse may have a son named John). In same county, appears Samuel Lee, apparently the son of Samuel Lee Sr. (d.1760) and his widow Mary Sam Jr. has sisters named Sarah and Ann. 3) James Lee. In Edgecombe Co. NC Wills 1771, there is a James Lee, who married Agnes Cade (in 1760) who seems to have sons named James, William and John (1775-1795?) and has a daughter named Sarah.

About the Lee Family: The Anglo-Saxon word for a grassy clearing in the forest or in an open meadow was Leah (also spelled Lee, Leigh, Lea, etc.). The Lees of Virginia, the line to which John Washington Lee is probably related, trace their lineage back to a knight in the 12th century named Reyner de Lega (or Le) whose Norman ancestor had fought in the Battle of Hastings on the side of William the Conqueror. Reyner became the sheriff of  Shropshire, England (near Wales) and was the first to use the checkered bars and rectangles in the Lee arms (pictured above). Prominent among Reyner's descendents were Roger Lee (who married Margaret Ashley ion 1385, thus adding the Ashley cinquefoils to the Lee arms), and one of his sons, John Lee of Coton Hall, father of the line of Coton Lees from whom Gen. Robert E. Lee of Virginia is descended. From this line, it was Col. Richard Lee II (ca.1610-1664) of England who emigrated to Virginia, settled in Jamestown, and fathered the line of Virginia Lees. Several of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were American governors, congressmen, signers of the Declaration of Independence and Revolutionary war heroes. Richard's grandson, Henry Lee Jr. (1691-1747) married Mary Bland, daughter of Col Richard Bland of Williamsburg, VA. (who was probably a not too distant relative of Thomas Bland of Caroline Co. MD., whose lineage is featured in this website). Henry Lee Sr.'s grandson was Gov. Henry Lee (1756-1818), also called "Light Horse Harry", the father of the most famous American Lee, Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Armies in the Civil War and afterwards a college president.

Webmaster: Gregory Blann. Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved. Revised 3/3/2005.